Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sheep and Death

We raised sheep when I was little -- like really little. We moved off the farm in 1984, just after I turned 5. I vividly recall my parents joking about one sheep having a brain, and with two sheep you have half a brain. Since sheep are flocking animals, an individual owns more than a couple, you've diminished sheep brain power significantly. Really sheep can't be that unintelligent as they've survived for thousands of years and really can thrive in almost any environment.

Since my quest for sheep formally began, I've heard several more tidbits about sheep and their likelihood of keeling over. My favorite, from a co-worker who also raises sheep: "Sheep die and then they get sick."

Folks who are around sheep regularly know they can be pretty sneaky and don't really show symptoms of being ill and when you realize they're sick and then it's pretty dire.

J, who has never been around livestock, spends his free time reading books about sheep, namely Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep, and he's a little disturbed by the health section talking about all the diseases and issues sheep can and do come down with. So much so, while working on the fence J was channeling the sheep saying things like "Oh, I'm tired, I don't think I'm going to go eat, so I'm going to die." Or "I'm bored today, so I think I'm going to die." Or, "I haven't had any energy drink to day, so I think I'm going to die."

Last night at supper while we were discussing fencing, I-minion decides that to try his own hand at a sheep death joke. Here's what he said "We wouldn't want to the fence to not be square, because it would upset the sheep and you know they might ..." At that moment he cocks his head to the side and clicks his tongue, indicating the sheep's demise.

Well we're going to do our best to make sure the fence is square. We've settled on high tensile wire, likely five strands, and the option of electrifying. Since we're expecting a cold, rainy weekend, we'll probably pull out the remaining woven wire fence that is so squished a 5-year-old can step over it without problems.


Jennifer said...

Hey Mariah, this is Jellenp, another JMF auntie...was just reading your blog and thought you'd be interested to read about this recent study showing that sheep are a lot smarter than people have always thought:

Mariah said...

Thanks for sharing! That's a great article. I knew sheep were smart, inspite of all the rumors/stereotypses. What animal can live for thousands of years and in many ways remain unchanged, yet be so adaptable?

Anyone who has spent some times watching sheep, probably picked up on quite a few of these observations.

I knew sheep could recognize faces, have a distinct hierarchy and appoint a leader to follow. I didn't know their brains were so similar to humans. I guess that's why USDA and feds are so concerned about Scrapie.